In a sensational development, the construction of the Atal Tunnel connecting Manali with Leh, which is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet, has been completed in a span of 10 years whereas the original estimated time was less than six years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the 8.8-km-long Rohtang tunnel which is at an altitude of around 10,000 metres. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the tunnel will give all-weather connectivity to the remote and border areas of the state.
The strategically important project is being completed at a cost of around Rs 3,200 crore, he said. According to the CM, the Rohtang tunnel project was the dream of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee which is now being fulfilled by Modi government. The tunnel is expected to be inaugurated by PM Modi in the last week of September.
“Atal Tunnel, connecting Manali to Leh, is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet. The estimated period for completion of this tunnel was less than 6 years but it was completed in 10 years,” said KP Purushothaman, Chief Engineer.
“There are CCTV cameras at every 60 metres and emergency exit tunnels at every 500 metres inside the tunnel. The tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 kilometres and four hours can be saved,” said Purushothaman.
Fire hydrants have also been installed inside the tunnel in case of any fire incident.
“The induction and de-induction of resources was a difficult task while it was under construction. We did face a lot of challenges but together we were able to complete its construction. The tunnel’s width is 10.5 metres, including footpath of 1 metre on both sides,” said Purushothaman.
It is expected that the Rohtang tunnel will save crores of rupees in transport costs.